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A life time of recovery

A life time of recovery
A life time of recovery

At the age of 13 I had a major stroke. The next 16 years are just the start of my journey towards recovery.

At the age of 12 I was a happy, energetic and athletic pre-teen girl. April 1995 changed all that. While out with my family I passed out from a seizure. After a CT scan it was found that I have a cyst in the 3rd ventricle of the brain causing hydrocephalus. I was immediately sent on a round of doctors that included a Neurosurgeon. On May 3 (2 days after my 13th birthday) I went in for surgery in an attempt to remove the cyst. I had a Ischemic Stroke on the table resulting in complete left sided paralysis.

While still in the hospital I was showing signs that recovery might be possible so I was allowed to go home and attend physical therapy as an outpatient. What followed was 6 months of very intensive physical therapy. However, PT had to interrupted 3 times; twice for 2 more surgeries (the last one I had a shunt placed to drain fluid) and once for a bad infection that had me hospitalized.

By the time I returned to school in late September I was walking and functional. Middle school and high school is hard enough for the average kid, throw in the fact of having a stroke made it some of the worst times of my life. Not only was I having to deal with all the regular teenage developmental problems, I had the additional task of learning how to cope with a disability, finding my new non-athletic identity, social problems due to being out of school for medical reason, having accommodations placed on me that isolated me to a certain extent from my friends and peers.

By the time I entered high school I had a found my new nitch. Reading. I had turned to books while still paralyzed and this helped my reading and academic skills take off. In high school I was still dealing with a lot of developmental problems that were exemplified by having a stroke related disability, but I had a few close friends and become very involved in Girl Scouts and school academics and activities; specifically band and theater. Some biggest challenges for me during that time included learning to drive, maintaining friendships, and keeping up with my school work (about 25 days a semester due to illness).

I was scared to go completely away to school for college, so I compromised with myself and my mom and went to the local university, but I lived in the dorms. This allowed me to have the independence that any college freshman would want while still being close to my family for both comfort and help when I become sick. Fortunately by this time I was starting to take control of my own medical care. In addition to excelling in my course work I become very involved in a few campus activities as well as ministries at my church and in the community. By the time I graduated in 2005, I had a BS in secondary education and my first teaching job all lined up.

Following graduation I did two things simultaneously; I started teaching high school history and I continued my own education and perused a masters in Curriculum and Instruction. Going to school was the easy part. Teaching is where I had the most problems. I am in at risk inner city high school and I had accessibility issues around the school, and even arranging the furniture in my classroom. Now, 5 years later I have it figured out to make things as easy for me, but there are still "accidents;" I trip over something or get my drop foot caught on a table or chair leg with causes me to fall. In addition to that the students do notice that I limp and at times they can be kind of rude about it.

Currently I am 29 years old, I work full time still, I am back in school again working towards a second masters in school counseling, I am happily married and have to hyper active puppies to keep my busy and entertained. Though I feel extremely fortunate for where I am (functionally, emotionally, physically and with my health) I would not say I am recovered. I will never be recovered; I will always be disabled and moving anything on the left side of my body will always take work and concentration. In the future I hope to continue to have good health and able to keep learning how to adapt to my limitations. The next challenge for me after I am done with school this time is looking into starting a family. At time point my husband and I still are not sure rather we will try to conceive naturally or go the adoption path due to my health and issues related to the stroke, but I am positive that I will have a child in a few years.


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Display of the Faces of Stroke stories does not imply National Stroke Association's endorsement of any product, treatment, service or entity. National Stroke Association strongly recommends that people ask a healthcare professional about diagnosis and treatment questions before using any product, treatment or service. The views expressed through the stories reflect those of the authors and do not reflect the opinion of National Stroke Association.

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